Last week, I explained how I am not confortable creating my own top prospect list because I rarely get to see these guys play. It’s already so unpredictable, even for trained scouts, so I would bring little to the table in terms of assessing their talent.
That said, thanks to hard work and the success of MetsBlog.com, I do get to talk to lots of people around the game, from executives to agents to reporters to scouts and at all different levels with all different teams. And so, for the last three years, when talking to people who know minor league baseball, I keep a running list of how many times a particular player is mentioned in a positive way. Based on this list, I create what I call a Hype List, or Most-Talked-About Prospect list, for my own use.
I’m not sure what the list proves, other than it ranks the team’s prospects based on who is drawing the most interest, who the game is most excited about and, basically, who might be most in demand (be it within or outside the organization).
I put my 2009 list on the blog, but I didn’t do it in 2010. Here is this year’s list, ranked top to bottom, with the most common comment I heard associated with each player in parenthesis:
[jbox color=”gray”]1) RHP Matt Harvey (He’s a big-league pitcher)
2) RHP Zack Wheeler (He has a live arm)
3) RHP Jeurys Familia (He could be a closer)
4) OF Brandon Nimmo (He’s an exciting player)
5) OF Cesar Puello (He has lots of potential)
6) RHP Jenrry Mejia (He might need to be a closer)
7) 2B Jordanny Valdespin (He’s a hitter, not a fielder)
8) OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (He’s toolsy)
9) SS Wilmer Flores (He’s a corner infielder or OF)
10) 2B Reese Havens (He needs to stay healthy this year)[/jbox]
In short, non-Mets people really seem confident and positive about Harvey and Wheeler; they think Familia and Mejia might be most effective in the bullpen; Nimmo could be a star if he develops right; Puello and Nieuwenhuis have a ton of potential, but are difficult to project; Valdespin can hit, but has no real position; this could be a make-or-break year for Havens, who has got to stay healthy; and Flores is in a Catch-22, in that his bat is most valuable at shortstop, but he just isn’t good enough to field the position, and he’s less valuable when playing a corner.
In years past, this list looked different than most of the published top-prospect lists. This year, they seem to mirror one another, which may be an indication that public relations and scouting are more in sync these days than in the past. In either case, it seems the farm system is getting better, slowly, but substantively, and with an emphasis on pitching.